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The Cappies is a writing and awards program that trains high school theatre and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders. Student critics vie to be published in local media outlets by attending productions at other schools and writing critical reviews.


Theatre and journalism students are trained as critics and attend each others shows. Cappies students discuss and learn about theatre production. Throughout the year, newspapers publish the reviews with the students' bylines. At the end of the year, Cappies student critics decide who among their peer performers and technicians should be recognized for awards at the end of the season with glamour and excitement.


Each participating school selects a show to be attended, and also forms a team of 3 to 9 student critics and 2 adult volunteers in the fall. Shows may have between 20 and 90 critics in attendance. Critic teams and mentors gather in a private discussion room to perform pre, mid, and post show discussions. The technical and performance aspects of the show are discussed with provided documentation from the host school.

After each show, with adult oversight, the mentors and program director select the best written reviews to be sent to local press outlets. All the reviews are also sent back to the performing school.

At the end of the season, a Tonys-like celebration occurs, where all nominated shows perform a cutting or the critics' choice song, and the final Cappies awards are presented with a trophy by regional critics and peers.


Bring It On The Musical, Northwest High School, Germantown, Maryland, March 29, 2019

Emma Shacochis

Oakton High School


Two, four, six, eight, what show do we appreciate? Northwest High School's "Bring It On The Musical"! Their powerhouse cast and all-star technical crew have teamed up to create a production that is soul-shaking, ground-breaking, and history in the making!


Based on the eponymous 2000 film, "Bring It On" features book by Jeff Whitty and music and lyrics by Tom Kitt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Amanda Green. "Bring It On", after premiering in Atlanta and touring the U.S. in 2011, opened on Broadway in 2012, where it earned a Tony nomination for Best Musical.


"Bring It On" follows newly appointed cheer captain Campbell, whose life is "every adolescent's favorite dream" - until she's mysteriously redistricted from Truman to Jackson High School. Campbell is shocked at Jackson's lack of cheer squad, but it becomes her mission to impress Danielle, the leader of Jackson's ruthless dance crew. If Campbell can pull an unconventional team together with Danielle's help, she may still be able to fulfill her destiny of winning gold at the National Cheer Championship.


As Campbell and Danielle, Sanna Izmirlian and Darah Davidson performed as if it was what they were born to do. Both portrayed remarkable nuance in their ability to layer confident leadership with teenage insecurity.


Izmirlian embodied Campbell's progression from relying on the rules to becoming more carefree, the catalyst of which was a hysterical dance routine that had Izmirlian proudly twirling in Leprechaun garb. Her strong belt was an excellent fit for Campbell's competitiveness, especially in her determined title number, "Bring It On".


Davidson soared as Danielle, as she balanced her self-assuredness as Jackson's queen bee with sincere hopes for a future at college. Aside from drawing attention with each skilled dance move, Davidson's powerful stylings always shone, especially in the disdainful "We Ain't No Cheerleaders".


Izmirlian and Davidson's well-matched ambition and enthusiasm created an endearing rapport; while initially opposing, the two grew to co-leaders and friends, as their voices united in "We're Not Done".


As Bridget, Campbell's fellow transfer student, Adele Williams delighted with her unrelentingly bubbly personality. Williams was perpetually engaged - she bounced, shimmied, and crunked to every song - and her sparkling soprano elevated her triumphant self-love anthem, "Ain't No Thing".


Both schools had MVPs on their teams. At Truman, Jamie Shegogue's narcissistic Skylar constantly had the audience laughing with her bitter snark. As the conniving sophomore Eva, Michelle Williams showed a "killer instinct" for brilliantly blending syrupy-sweet and scathing dispositions.


At Jackson, Leilani Meyers and Donovan McFadden were fabulous as Nautica and La Cienega, showcasing dynamic dance moves and perfectly timed one-liners. As the laid-back Randall, Christopher Polio displayed a smooth and utterly charismatic voice in "Enjoy the Trip".


Every performer in "Bring It On" moved as part of a finely-tuned design. Each actor maintained impressive individuality while executing the athletic choreography with sensational synchronization. The never-ending energy of the students of Jackson was worthy of the Spirit Stick, especially in the rallying "It's All Happening" and ovation-prompting Nationals routine "Cross The Line".


Well-made projections (Rishabh Karanth) of web searches and video chats added visual hilarity to several scenes. Each of the set pieces was detailed and distinct, including alternating school banners, Jackson's beat-up lockers and vending machines, and Campbell and Eva's eerily identical bedrooms. By using contrasting palettes on the Truman and Jackson teams during competitions, the makeup team further discerned the schools' different styles.


An electric ensemble of performers, terrific technical design, and a sublime score - it's all happening in Northwest High School's pep-filled "Bring It On"!


Lauren Perl

Poolesville High School


"I've got you!"


Northwest High School's energetic production of  Lin Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt's ' "Bring it On" received a standing ovation from a packed audience. The show is a musical adaptation of the 2000 film "Bring it On".  The plot revolves around cheerleader and high school senior Campbell Davis (Sanna Izmirlian) and the rivalry between the wealthy Truman High School and Inner-City Jackson High School Cheer Squads. When Campbell is elected captain of the Truman Cheer Team, a rising Sophomore on the squad named Eva (Michelle Williams) abuses her mother's powers on the school board to redistrict solely Campbell to another high school, Jackson High School, that did not currently have a cheerleading team. Campbell befriends three dancers named Danielle (Darah Davidson), Nautica (Leilani Meyers), and La Cienega (Donovan McFadden) at Jackson and convinces them to start a cheer team, falsely promising that the winner of the cheer competition gets college scholarships.


The musical number "Welcome to Jackson" set the tone for the whole production in which the clean, lively, rambunctious, ensemble helps establish an enthusiastic, positive, playful, and edgy dynamic for Jackson High School that is consistent throughout the entirety of the show and greatly contrasts with the Truman High School atmosphere. The choreography for each schools' general population and specifically the schools' cheer squads effectively and entertainingly illustrated the divide between the schools, with Jackson High dancing hip hop and Truman dancing cheer. Both schools’ ensembles were incredibly synchronized, clean, and lively, which is particularly noteworthy considering the show featured approximately 110 student performers and these dancers were featured as much as possible. A trampoline was cleverly used and allowed them to fly out of the orchestra pit in the opening number and this set the tone for an incredibly entertaining production due to the director's, Sherion Cosby's, creative use of space and the choreographer's, Shawn Crosby's, spirited and animated choreography. The stark differences in the two schools were further displayed in both costume and lighting, each school has a distinct color that was used to further establish the contrast. Costume-wise, Truman High was generally kept in more traditional, preppy, outfits while Jackson High School students were more likely to be clothed in contemporary street apparel and this was seen in their everyday school outfits and their cheerleading uniforms.


The show cleverly and comically used projections computer graphics to show the redistricting of the school neighborhoods, and Truman High facetime and text conversations. This worked to establish the catty dynamic of the Truman High Cheer squad and to highlight the show's 75 stage crew (tech) members.


The show featured numerous strong talented female performers. Sanna Izmirlian played Campbell with such confidence and likability that she advanced the show and allowed the audience to unwaveringly support her throughout the entirety of the show. Izmirlian was truly a triple threat, quickly moving the audience to her side with her "I want" song titled "One Perfect Moment" and dancing traditional cheer, hip hop, and jazz. Jamie Shegogue as Skylar consistently made the audience laugh, with very deliberate comedic timing and delivery of each of her lines. Darah Davidson played Danielle with an incredibly commanding stage presence, and fierce, sharp, dancing abilities. However, what made this show one for the books was the cohesiveness, enthusiasm, and cleanliness of the ensemble.


"Bring it On" was an energized, polished, humorous show filled with contemporary Broadway fun, moving performances, beautiful choreography, deliberate costumes and lighting, and a fantastic ensemble! Bravo to the Cast and Crew of "Bring It On"!


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